Thursday, April 5, 2012

Deep Fried

We are deep in the Tennessee valley right now, down where Naomi is pronounced "Nayoma" and Danny is "Dainey". Oh, I like it.

You couldn't possibly believe the food I've eaten today, but I'll tell you anyway.

Breakfast: Biscuits, gravy, bacon.
Lunch: Cheeseburger with the works, Cheddar Pepp'rs, Cranberry Limeade
Dinner: BBQ pork, baked beans, slaw, chips

I had water with all 3 meals. I'm on a health kick.


We visited a hang-gliding launch up at the top of the mountain this morning. I almost lost my lunch. And we hadn't even had lunch. I'd been there years ago and stood right up near the edge, all smiles, not a worry in the world. This time was, uh, different. And not just because of the large, slobbering, orphaned Blood Hound lurching around. What is it about having kids that makes these things lose some of their charm? I was a bundle of nerves carted around in a basket case.

But when that hang glider caught the air, I "Woo hoo'd!!!" I think I was the only one. I just can't stop myself. It's so beautiful and inspiring, the letting go. Especially when I'm not the one doing it.

So, have I ever told you that I have a flip phone with three of the numbers rubbed clean off? I have no access to technology when I'm away from my computer and I really like it that way. It was fun to come "home" tonight and read your comments about Olivia*. I'm always worried that my serious stuff will be really misunderstood. It always is, by someone. This was no exception.

I am an imperfect girl with a sinful heart. That should surprise no one. I get stuff wrong all the time. I surprise myself in really bad ways. Every day is a journey toward becoming more of who I was meant to be. Yeah, it would be easier to keep my gross to myself, but God keeps shaping me and shaking me. He redeems me at my worst, and that is something worth talking about. His grace cancels out shame. Have you ever heard of something more amazing?

Thank you for loving Olivia* with me. That sweet girl. I can't stop praying for her. And me.

Speaking of shame, I am only now reading To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time in my life. Go own ahayed and sayy it. Shaymful. I'm half-way through and it feels important to finish it here, in the (relative to Indiana) South.

So I'm off to do just that. And eat a clementine, because my innards are crying out for something grown in dirt.

Then tomorrow? More mountains and fried foods!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Having kids totally ruined four-wheeling (as in ATV-riding) for me. It's just not fun to be all wild and crazy when you have little kids to leave motherless. Check your e-mail!!! (Either one.)

  3. you are so close but still too far.

    ps. washing my outfit tonight so the streak can continue. i like your dreamy dress.

  4. Love all these pictures - especially the one with you and 2/3 of your kiddos.
    I believe in heaven we will be able to eat all the fried foods we want. I plan on eating a lot onion rings. And bacon. :)

  5. We live in Tennessee and absolutely love it! It has captured my heart :) Glad you are enjoying your trip. You must go to Waffle House. It's seriously one of my favorite places in the whole world. I recommend the All Star breakfast with grits (I like mine with butter and sugar :) and a waffle with either chocolate chips and whipped cream or strawberries. Mmmmm, so stinkin good! Thanks for sharing your "gross" parts. It's so powerful and inspiring to be that real and open. We all have them and you are working so hard to get rid of yours and I love ya for that.

  6. Girl, we're off to Tennessee to visit family on Sunday! Can't wait for some Southern food and feel. And you can bet I'll acquire a bit of a drawl during our short stay. I always, always do. Our northern accents aren't nearly as fun.

  7. Nothing like food in the South, no? At least you washed it all down with water.

    Hang gliding! Looks like so much fun, but I fear I am past the stage of ever doing something like that. Too chicken.

    My friend is just now reading "To Kill a Mockingbird" for the first time. I thought she was the only adult that hadn't read it. One of my all time favorite books.

    I missed your last post somehow. I'm off to read it now.

  8. Bahaha! Your health kick comment totally had me almost spit out my water. Your trip looks absolutely amazing - makes me want to go back to Tennessee!! It's such a beautiful place, isn't it? And by the way: I've never read To Kill A Mockingbird, and Ill just be honest and say I'm probably not planning on reading it. So... yeah. If you're every feeling bad about the fact that you haven't read something, I'll probably always be there to raise my hand and say "you're still doing better than I am" ;)

  9. Oh, you're making me jealous!!!! I grew up in Tennessee. Have fun!

  10. You know I used to live in Tennessee, right? In Leipers Fork (aka Franklin) just south of Nashville. It's where I attended O'More College of Design and fell deeply in LOVE with the south. It is, to this day, my favorite place I've lived and I've lived in some beautiful places!

    For the love of all things good & great- PLEASE eat a "meat and three" somewhere, hit a Wafflehouse, share some fried okra & hush puppies & drive in a holler (hollow)! It was Sunday drives in Tennessee that nourished my soul, that land speaks to me. It's also where I found roads with names like "Poor House Lane" and "Tater Tot Road"- I kid you not.

    Olivia- I appreciate your honesty as I know it's brave. You make people uncomfortable at times with it & that's not a bad thing. It's easy to read something like that and judge. At first I kept waiting to hear you tell us that you invited her over or gave her a brownie or something. I was honestly a bit surprised that you didn't. That's not me judging you at all, I truly thought I was about to hear a tale about you feeding Olivia brussel sprouts. My sister's boyfriend has a 13 year old that I struggle with. She's hard to love. I hate even typing that, but it's the truth. She's mean spirited, screams, is spoiled & there are never any repercussions for her bad behavior. I've spent days with her that have felt like jail sentences & I've beat myself up for not being more warm or friendly. All I try to do now when I do see her is be kind and consistent.

    Anyway...Judge not lest ye be judged, right? No one should be judging you. We're all flawed.

    I still think you rock.

    Oh, and I love your dress!!



  11. God makes beautiful out of gross. that's the story of my life. every day. so thanks for sharing yours. it's a sacred gift.

  12. If you never put yourself out there how would you ever be understood OR misunderstood. Most days I'm still trying to figure out what I stand for to begin with. I think one of the most powerful things is a person's intention. It is this palpable thing, you can't quite put your finger on it sometimes, but you feel know it is there. Usually it is either pure, or not so pure. You my dear are pure. Whatever it comes across like, how it is understood or is still pure. Love on...write on my dear.

  13. This looks like such a fun trip! Beautiful pics and beautiful words lady. And loving your dress!!

  14. Lookout Mountain! I went to college up there and I miss it! Please eat at the Boathouse for me on the Tennessee River. It's my absolute favorite! Also, be sure to get some ice cream at Clumpies! Love that part of the country!

  15. Sounds like the perfect trip to get some more meat on your bones after your recent sick bugs!!;)

    I really appreciate the honesty of your last post - whoever has not had a less than generous thought, they can judge no?? We have all been there surely? The point is your heart is soft enough to see and change and that is amazing.

  16. To Kill A Mockingbird is the best book ever written, and a total life changer. btw--I mean next to the Bible :)

  17. None of us are righteous, we are all sinners. All of our works are as filthy rags. His Grace is sufficient for all of our needs. He is our perfection.

    I love this next bit of scripture, taken from Lamentations KJV ~

    It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.

    They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

    The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

    The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.

    It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.

    Thank you so much for being yourself. You are an inspiration to so many, young and old alike.

    Enjoy your time in TN it is a lovely area. I loved Lookout Mountain and Rock City.

    Have a wonderful Easter/Resurrection Day.

    Love and hugs to you and yours ~ FlowerLady

  18. I've been thinking of Olivia all night. I read your some of your comments, too.
    1. Kudos for the guts it took to post that story.
    2. The love and grace of Jesus is something all us messed up people need- regardless of whether we would've fed a crazy, hungry stranger or not. Totally "got" your point.
    3. I just know that God will be gettin' himself some glory out of Olivia's story. It can't be the end of it. It just can't.

    Guts + Grace = God's Glory.

    Have fun in Tennuhssee, ya'll

  19. I just recently read TKAM and couldn't believe I went all this time without it. I'm attending the festival somewhere in alabama soon, with a friend who teaches high school English and is crazy about the book.

  20. Your dress is awesome, by the way. And I WISH that I hadn't read To Kill a Mockingbird yet so that I could experience it for the first time AGAIN. I love that book. Scout is so wonderful. And Dill! Let me say that "a bundle of nerves carted around in a basket case" is another one of your brilliant phrases. I know exactly what you mean about having kids taking the fun out of some activities because now you are worrying about them instead of getting a thrill. My kids are 20 and 16 and I hate to tell you, but that feeling doesn't go away. Especially when you know that teenagers SEEK the thrill. On that happy note, at ease, at ease.

  21. I haven't been following your blog very long, but I love it. I look forward to your posts so much and love your outlook on life, love, growth and family. I LOVE that you accept yourself where you are at with the knowledge that it is the first step in becoming a better version of you. Thank you for sharing yourself, all of you, with all of us.

  22. My stomach is growling, that lunch sounded yummy :-) I wanted to say that I can't read your post about Olivia without crying. I really hope to hear more about her.

  23. you watched the pbs special, didn't you?
    i contemplated it for a moment... but i don't read fiction for fun.
    thinking we'll read it together (the boys and i) for a school assignment.

  24. I heart Tennessee. We lived there for 5 years before moving to Indiana. I missed the people so much that God gave us neighbors with the richest East TN accents,and they're helping me plant a garden! You keep on enjoying your fried food fantasies! Hope you're not dwelling too much on comments who perhaps were lacking grace. I believe that, as Christians, being EXTREMELY truthful about the journey the Lord has us on is the best way to encourage others on their own journey. Conversely, pretending that we don't have ugliness in us only perpetuates the lie of the world. You write about hard stuff, the stuff of your heart, and it is nothing but beautiful from where I sit (in my pj's).

  25. I just LOVE this! Such gorgeous pictures ;-)

  26. Posting Olivia was brave and people like to think they would respond differently but EVERYONE has their own "Olivia" someone who makes us uncomfortable someone who annoys us. Someone who we dont want to show the love of God too but we simply want to go away.Or we want to show them love at a more convienant time. I am a foster mom and I stuggle with this with one of my current kids. But the thing is I struggle. The struggle its important. Thank you for sharing your struggle.

  27. Looks like you all weren't to far from me. I leave a little east of Knoxville. I love living here, it is so beautiful. I hope you have a good time on your stay. I love the blue and orange striped dress by the way, so cute!

  28. I am not even going to begin my lecture on how CLOSE you are to me. (Ok, so probably like 5 hours, but still. If you drive further down you MUST call.

    Have fun.

    Eat a fried Oreo. You will thank me later.


  29. It cracks me up that some, including myself initially, reacted to your instinct not to fix Olivia a plate as some sort of big-time sin. I'm from coal-country southwest Virginia, where inviting someone to share at your table is manners and "religion" combined. So my gut reaction was somewhere along the lines of "it's ok that she thinks that kid is weird because it sounds like she is, but good grief, give that baby a plate!" And then I saw how wrong MY thinking was. Offering her a plate would have superficially smoothed over MY heart problem and made me feel all Christian with the big C, but it might not have been physically good for Olivia (allergies, diabetes- you didn't know) and it wouldn't have changed the deep down rejection of all the Olivias in my heart. We're all ugly inside sometimes, and can't be Jesus in our own strength. I'm proud of you for putting that out there. It challenged me. And I hope you're having all sorts of Southern fun and enjoying To Kill A Mockingbird, which is in my all-time top 5.

  30. I'm new here and I really enjoy your blog! I am sorry to admit that I, too, have never read To Kill a Mockingbird.

    Have you read Gone with the Wind? That was a good one.

  31. Glad you're loving our beautiful south! I'd make sure to snag some hushpuppies while you're down here, with sweet tea. You won't regret it. And I love when you share your heart. Gives me more strength to share my own. Bye Friend!

  32. I just read To Kill A Mockingbird for the first time last year. There is a reason it's a classic- very good! I really appreciated your honesty in the Olivia post. I totally get it. I am all too often shocked by my sinful thoughts. Praise Jesus, on this Good Friday, that he paid for our sins and we have on need to live in shame or condemnation. We are free to love! ~Maria

  33. As iron sharpens iron, sister! I am grateful for you sharing your honest, vulnerable sinful heart. Challenges me to be honest with my sin, too!

  34. How He uses us is so achingly beautiful. How our judgment and pride is made into something so's just so amazing; so incredible.

    I *get* you and your raw self is a testimony to Grace in the finest of ways.

    Blessings, friend.

  35. i saw "deep fried" and i thought Oreos! (definitely a pavlovian response) and i had to read on.

    then i saw your little aside about being misunderstood from yesterday's post, and i had to go and reread the post, and read through all the comments to it to find the f*#@! commenter (and yes, i am one of those who will hurl obscenities at a fellow sister in Christ- Only In My Mind, cause that doesn't count, right?) who actually DIDN'T GET IT and then irony of ironies realized that she'd become my olivia. for the day. who knows who the next day will bring.

    it takes guts, courage, humility to share the uglinesses inside. i wish that i had half of what you have, and i thank you for being brutally honest with us, your readers.

    i think about how it's easy to love those who are lovable. and then i wonder if that is really love. and i think of how when one does something that one really does't want to do, but one does, in the name of Christ, how that dying to self is part of the transformation that He is continually working in us... so thank you, thank you, for continually pointing to Christ.

    happy easter!

  36. I will confess that I have not read To Kill a Mockingbird. (I did read Chaucer in high school English though.)

  37. Give up that water and get yourself some sweet tea, girl! Of course, in TN, where I was raised and my "people" still live, you just have to ask for "tea" because it's all sweet. To Kill a Mockingbird will make you want to name a baby or at least a pet Scout.

    Happy reading and soaking up the southern charm.

  38. I love the picture of you with C and River. I am glad you are having a fun time, with plenty of hearty food. And I noticed Si Pie had SHORTS on!!

  39. I worked at a library once and overheard my co-worker telling a patron we did not have the book To Kill A Mockingbird. Puzzled, I looked over her shoulder and realized she was typing Tequila Mockingbird. Oh how I love accents. :)

    Have a ball in TN and avoid any roads that end in "pike" unless you have 4WD.

    Your Olivia post was amazing because it was a snapshot of a real moment...not polished and spit shined for your blog, just really real. I love it. You're always turning me inside out. Letting go and hitting publish. Thanks for that.

  40. I had this quote saved on my inspiration board. It is by Dr. Joyce Brothers.
    "If a child is given love, he becomes loving... If he's helped when he needs help, he becomes helpful. And if he has been truly valued at home... he grows up secure enough to look beyond himself to the welfare of others." I'm sure there are exceptions but so true. I know no matter what you write or are thinking.. that you love children unconditionally. I follow your blog and think at times it is to religous for me --- but I always come back. Thank you !!

  41. "I am an imperfect girl with a sinful heart. That should surprise no one. I get stuff wrong all the time. I surprise myself in really bad ways. Every day is a journey toward becoming more of who I was meant to be. Yeah, it would be easier to keep my gross to myself, but God keeps shaping me and shaking me. He redeems me at my worst, and that is something worth talking about. His grace cancels out shame. Have you ever heard of something more amazing?"


    2. I can't believe you're one state away from me!!! (You know we might move there soon, right?) ;-)

  42. Dear FlowerPatch Farmgirl/Shannan/my homegirl!

    It's me...Sheila...from

    You know - me. Who stalks your blog and loves you! :-) The Preacher's wife from East Tennessee?? What? You don't remember? Well, it doesn't matter, because I am totally up for buying you lunch (or dinner or breakfast or a Moon Pie) if you wanna hook up and meet. You. Are. My. Grace-girl-hero.

    If, by some crazy stroke of fate, you can meet up, email me. (I know, right? This is so crazy, to even be saying this...)

    Most Sincerely,

    Sheila Atchley

  43. Well shoot, nevermind. I think you've done been here and gone, girlfriend!


    Well, we're girlfriends in my mind. And heart.

  44. We just returned from deep in the TN valley as well and your diet sounds a lot like mine. : ) It was delish while it lasted. But now I am back to smoothies with kale in them...which is probably as it should be after a steady diet of lattes, ice-cream, and Krispy Kremes.

  45. ...mockingbird will change your life a little bit...olivia will change your life a bigger bit...and i have the feeling that you will change olivia's life more than a bigger bit...i really don't know how else you would pronounce those names...nayomi and dainey...sound just right to me...but then i live and have always lived where beautiful tennesssee is where my northern "people" live...blessings...(ps...please know that mrs dubose is not french is southern sounding doo bows...not do boi...)

  46. my mother says cunnie for connie, who happens to be her sister.
    she says "atomic bum" for atomic bomb.
    and she says "chicargo" for chicago.

    i'm not even kidding. you hang around the south long enough and you'll be saying "cut off the lights" instead of "turn off the lights" and "fixin' to" instead of "about to."

    before I go....
    did you drink sweet tea? it's like syrup.
    love that you ate so well when you were're almost southern, girl!

  47. I have no idea what the olivia story is all about, but i'm on my way to figure it out. i have a hard time believing that someone would take you the wrong way. never feels good when we're misunderstood. never.

    you're right, though, grace cancels out shame.
    help me remember that one, okay?

  48. I'm from southern WV and TN looks a lot like it does here. I never want to live anywhere else! Hope you enjoyed To Kill A is one of my absolute favorites!

  49. I've been reading your blog for awhile now and have loved every bit of it. Sometimes you even write the words from my head if I were there in that moment...maybe that's weird. Anyhoo, your writing comes alive and encourages me and often convicts me! I have the book Seven waiting in my stack to read, inspired by you!

    But tonight I'm finally commenting b/c well, #1 I live in TN, in the mtns and #2 I had never read To Kill a Mockingbird until about 2 years ago. And this statement is even more shocking because I have 2 degrees in English and actually taught English and long to write my own novel. Still, though, no TKAMB until 2 yrs ago. And when I finished it, whoa! How could this book not have been a part of my Southern self in my Southern world?! I loved it and hope you were able to finish it while still here in TN and love it too!

  50. Hi shannan,
    This is my first time to respond to your blog. I just discovered you about a week ago. I loved your words so much I went back...all the way your very first post. I have been reading through day and night. You have become my "summer reading". I can't put you down. I stay up way too late with heavy eyelids trying to cover much blog ground. The reason I'm writing now is to tell you I completely 100% get what you were saying and feeling about Olivia. I'm a public school elementary teacher. I have known many many kids just like Olivia and I have felt those very same things. I totally knew where you were coming from. But what is so AWESOME is how God gives us His eyes for those precious souls AND what is also so awesome is how you let us see that process. You are amazing. Please don't ever stop telling us what's in your heart. It's like looking in a mirror for me. :)
    Kelli in Texas